We all have a favorite hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Festooned in bright colors and sporting flashy names, they leap from t-shirts, posters, toy boxes, wrapping paper, cereal, cookies, and whatever else the marketing people think might sell simply by having these characters emblazoned on their packaging. But we also know there are other equally pivotal players in the MCU. As we prepare for the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, these are our picks for the Top Ten Supporting Players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
10. Professor Erik Selvig
In the wake of his involvement with Thor, Nick Fury brought the theoretical astrophysicist into the Tesseract project. This would eventually gain the attention of Loki, who, in turn, would mentally enslave Selvig along with Hawkeye. Selvig’s expertise enabled Loki to open the portal allowing the Chitauri to spill into our end of the galaxy. While under Loki’s sway, Erik was able to maintain enough of his own consciousness to set up the back door through the Tessaract’s force field which would eventually save the day. When all was said and done, Selvig was the one to present the Tessaract to his friend Thor, who would take it to Asgard for safe-keeping.
There was also this:
9. The Nova Corps
This squad of intergalactic police showed up, showed out, and showed off in a huge way during the climactic Battle of Xandar in Guardians of the Galaxy. Their appearance left this writer, at least, clamoring for more. How will their newly-forged treaty with their millennium-long enemies the Kree Empire affect the rest of the galaxy? Have the Novas been the sole beachhead holding the Kree from spreading throughout the galaxy for the past thousand years? How can they possibly have any peripheral vision in those helmets? All these questions and more will have to wait for another day, but we can rest assured we haven’t seen the last of the Nova Corps.
One of the fiercest warriors of Asgard, Sif was worshiped by the Vikings as the Goddess of War, and that’s one hell of a resume line. She’s unafraid to stand up in defiance of her king (well, it was the usurper Loki, but still…), and, on at least two occasions, has bailed out Thor when he was playing the part of the dude in distress. She’s worked alongside Coulson and his agents here on Midgard more than once. By blade, fist, or any other weapon, one thing is for sure: none of us would want to be on her bad side.
7. Dr. Abraham Erskine
In his relatively short screen time, he helped to forge Captain America. Sure, he was the scientist who developed the super soldier procedure. His martyrdom in the laboratory ensured that the procedure would never be adequately replicated. Other minds would try and succeed with results varying from monstrous to abominable. He saw something in scrawny Steve Rogers. While it took time to win over everyone else involved, he immediately spotted that spark of determination and selfless heroism which he knew would be a key factor in making a hero. His pep talk in the barracks the night before the procedure infused added nobility to Steve’s boy-scout attitude. Steve Rogers might have been a super soldier without Erskine’s paternal guidance, but he might not have been quite the hero he is today.
6. Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Only one person on this planet can bring Tony Stark to a screeching halt. Pepper has, since the first Iron Man flick, moved far beyond the role of Girl Friday to that of Tony’s grounded moral compass. As a businessperson, she has proven herself to be much better equipped to steer the good ship Stark Industries than the man whose name is on the letterhead. We’re still unsure whether the effects of Extremis in Iron Man 3 will have any lasting impact on her. But one thing’s for sure: Tony isn’t half the man he can be without her beside him.
5. J.A.R.V.I.S./ Edwin Jarvis
Edwin Jarvis, sometime butler and constant ally to Howard Stark, served as support for Howard and Peggy Carter in what would likely lead to the early formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. (assuming we get a second season of Agent Carter – fingers crossed). He would also serve as a father figure for young Tony Stark, inspiring the young inventor to label his artificially intelligent support network with the moniker J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Really Very Intelligent System). J.A.R.V.I.S. serves as the user interface for all of Tony’s Iron Man armors, Stark mansion, and Stark Tower. Imagine if the HAL 9000 could have been even half as useful…
4. Maria Hill
If Nick Fury is the Man in Charge, Maria Hill is the bloody boots on the ground. As an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria has been in the thick of the battle-torn MCU nearly as much as Phil Coulson. It’s sort of hard to believe that she didn’t become a part of the MCU until the first Avengers movie. Helping Fury bring down the overtaken Helicarriers after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria has taken a quiet job in the private sector, working for Stark Industries.
3. Peggy Carter
Ah, Peggy. I am such a sucker for a British accent. And when that British accent is parting the cherry-red lips of a fiercely independent, decades-ahead-of-her-time feminist super spy? Well, forget it. I’m done (could it be considered ironic that I find feminist women so hot?) Unlike her radio drama counterpart, Agent Peggy Carter is about a thousand times more than “Captain America’s Girlfriend”. She would eventually stand beside Howard Stark for the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. I doubt I’m alone is hoping to see more of her postwar adventures. To say nothing of that red hat.
2. Howard Stark
Howard Stark is Marvel’s embodiment of the American Industrial Age. Always thinking ten steps ahead of the rest his contemporaries, it’s safe to label him as the master architect of the MCU. He was a part of the project that gave birth to Captain America. His technological achievement would be continued, and in some cases fully realized, by his son Tony. His post-WWII work would sow the seeds that would lead to the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hiding behind his philandering playboy persona, Howard Stark’s singular vision was building a future that is still being realized.
1. Phil Coulson
Seriously, now. Who else could be at the top of this list? He’s been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very beginning. Working under Fury’s orders, he was nearly as pivotal in bringing together the Avengers Initiative as Nick Fury himself. Better yet, as evidenced by his Captain America trading card collection, he’s a fan just like the rest of us. Arguably, the Avengers owe their name to him. I mean, whose death were they avenging when Fury finally brought all the pieces together for the Battle of New York, anyway? After the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury appointed Coulson Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Or, well, what was left of it. Way to hand over the damaged goods, Fury. Jeez. And am I the only one wondering what might happen if/when the other Avengers find out that Coulson isn’t dead?
- Dum-E – a pity vote for Tony Stark’s sadly inept robot helper arm
- The Howling Commandos — because they need their own series
- Heimdall — just because no one is cooler than cool like Heimdall
- Ben Urich – because he should be why Project T.A.H.I.T.I. exists